There’s nothing like the infamous scene in the classic movie Jerry Maguire where sports agent Jerry desperately screams at the top of his lungs, “show me the money!” at the request of his client, football player Rod Tidwell, who wants to see the “big bucks.”
This scene captured in the image above came at a pivotal moment when Jerry was trying to keep Rod on his talent roster, but Rod had his own terms. As hilarious as this was, it isn’t too far off when it comes to salary negotiations. In fact, in many ways, you are both the talent and the agent promoting your personal brand to your current or future employer trying to make the best “deal.”
So what do you do when you’re in a situation where you’re asked to lower your expected salary? Here are some ways to approach the conversation, since the “show me the money” approach may not work as well in the real world.
1. Listen then defend.
By refusing to lower your salary expectations, you’re automatically entered into the game of negotiations. An important part of negotiating your expected salary is having effective communication skills. You can’t properly articulate your position if you don’t understand where the other side is coming from.
Is it a matter of budget, value, politics, or all of the above? You need to clearly understand their angle, so that you can counter in an effective way. For example, if the angle is value, you know that the point you would have to defend is how you bring value to the company—whether it’s through money-saving initiatives or out of the box thinking.
2. Prove your worth.
It’s not enough to just talk about how much you feel you deserve your expected salary, you have to prove it. In fact, remove your feelings from the conversation because you get paid to do, not feel. Injecting your emotions into the conversation will take away from your points.
With that being said, you should provide concrete reasons why you deserve your expected salary. Highlight specific projects that you successfully led as well as positive feedback you received from colleagues. Gather emails, commendations, and performance evaluations. Use whatever you can get your hands on that proves your case. Let your work speak to why you refuse to be offered less than you deserve.
3. Back up your position with facts and salary data.
There’s nothing like some good ole hard data to back up your salary expectations. Chances are you have a certain salary in mind, which may be due to a number of reasons. For example, you’re a training specialist with eight years’ experience and make $70,000 a year. But according to salary research at a reliable source like Salary.com, someone with your experience should make at least $84,000. Another example may be that a standard raise is 2%, but you performed above and beyond expectations and should be awarded above the standard raise given to everyone else.
Your expected salary should be justified, and realistic, based on your experience and industry standards. It’s unrealistic to expect $100,000 for a role that tops out at $80,000 based on specific criteria. Make sure that you back up your numbers with proven statistics that will help you build a stronger case for your expected salary.
4. Negotiate a middle ground.
Sometimes getting a satisfactory outcome means finding out if there is room to compromise on both sides. You don’t have to completely let go of your needs, but an option may be to see if there is room to negotiate. If you are considering a job offer, it may be worth it to negotiate benefits such as work from home privileges, flex-time, transportation allowances, or bonuses. If you’re currently employed, another option is to set an agreed upon time for a future increase based on performance. For example, in six months, upon satisfactory completing set goals, you will receive an increase. The key is to find a middle ground without compromising your needs or value.
5. Be prepared to walk away.
If even your most strategic efforts don’t get the response you’re looking for, you must be prepared to make your next move, which may mean walking away. Although this may or may not work in your favor, you have to be good with your decision regardless of the outcome. Don’t threaten to walk away in the hopes of getting what you want because you may be hugely disappointed if you don’t get your desired results. And it takes away from your credibility.
Stand firm when arguing for your expected salary, but be open to compromise, if possible. Know that for each “no” there’s a “yes” waiting for you as well.
Featured photo credit: Picture from Jerry Maguire courtesy via pixgood.com